Q and A with Dr. Placido Cardoso, Guinea Bissau INASA

IANPHI: How did you become interested in public health?

[PC] I completed my medical training in 1992 after attending the first medical school in Bissau. I then went on to receive my Masters in International Health in Denmark. I started working with other physicians in a regional hospital in Bissau as a program manager and the only medical doctor. It was in that time that I got involved in public health. After holding several prominent positions in the various health care facilities, I was ultimately appointed to Director General of WAHO (West African Health Organization).
While studying for my Masters, I concentrated on reproductive health, specifically in women. Guinea-Bissau has one of the highest levels of mortality rates in the world. Women were dying at an alarming rate due to postpartum hemorrhaging, something that I believe is completely preventable. However, to reduce maternal mortality rate you need to have a vision. There needs to be involvement in other sectors such as infrastructure, energy, and health education for women. I wanted to play in part in changing that

IANPHI: Can you share a bit about the history of INASA?

[PC] Prior to the establishment of INASA, the functions of public health in Guinea Bissau existed in several different departments. Epidemiology, laboratories, the national school of public health, and the department of information and communications for health all functioned separately.
FIOCRUZ Brazil and IANPHI started working with us to create a strategy to integrate several of these existing entities, and INASA came into being. Effective integration is key; you have to put together the structures to have the same point of view and the same vision, in order to come together to form one institute.
Since 2009, the institute has continued to grow, as we improve its governance and focus on improving its competencies as an NPHI.

IANPHI: Who are the key stakeholders for leveraging support to address maternal mortality rates, and other current public health challenges in Guinea Bissau? 

[PC] Engaging stakeholders is key to the sustainability of our work, and allows us to expand our reach for addressing public health in Guinea Bissau. We’ve had the opportunity to work with many different partners, both within the government and public sector, and beyond it. Working with partners like IANPHI, UN agencies, NGOs, and others, we can see improvements and can truly learn lots from one another.

IANPHI: INASA has been very successful in leveraging funding for its continued work and growth as an institute. What advice would you offer to other NPHIs looking to increase support for leveraging funding?

[PC] I have three pieces of advice. First, everything should start with planning. Every institute needs a work plan and strategic planning. These are key to selling your needs, showing evidence of these needs, explaining what you have done in the past, what you are doing now, and why you need support from others. Second, you need to be transparent in showing the ways you have used the funding you have received. This is critical to creating confidence with partners that you are using the funding well, and it builds credibility and trust to leverage additional funding. And finally, strong leadership and ongoing support from external partners is important. For INASA, we don’t receive support from the government, so it is key to have other partners to meet our needs.

IANPHI: What role has IANPHI played in INASA’s work?

[PC] INASA is the baby of IANPHI. IANPHI was with us from the beginning. Our first and second second strategic plans were created thanks to IANPHI. The US CDC, and others, have been partners in these as well. Thanks to this ongoing engagement, IANPHI understands the role of INASA, and we can support other institutes.
Burkina Faso requested support from IANPHI, and INASA was invited to assist in this process, paying forward the help and lessons we have learned along the way. Dr. Banla in Togo also invited INASA to visit. Through our relationship with IANPHI, these new partnerships have been established and fostered. We look forward to continuing our work with IANPHI and its members.

Learn More About INASA

National Institute of Public Health, INASA

IANPHI Projects in Guinea Bissau >>